Hitting the Colorado waters this summer? Here are some tips to stay safe

Local News

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Lots of people will be hitting the water this summer trying to cool off, but first responders have a warning: take it easy and make good choices.

There have already been several water rescues in the past couple of weeks along the Front Range. So experts are asking you to be extra careful.

This is prime season for high water on Colorado rivers, and the water level can change by the hour.

“Sometimes you’ll be on the water and it’s smooth, and then there’s a rain storm up further in the canyon, and that will raise the water level and you may not even know there’s a storm,” said West Metro Firefighter and swift water rescue instructor Lee Maulsby.

“Anytime you’re on the water, the conditions can change really fast. As we’ve seen the last couple of days, the rain storms come through, and when you’re on the water, you never know if that is going to contribute to the risk level that you’re out there,” Maulsby said.

The swift water rescue team at West Metro Fire Rescue is constantly training and ready to respond.

“We all train together. We are out here training today, that way we kind of know. There’s a lot of things that just go smoother if you don’t have to ask a lot of questions. It just goes unspoken,” Maulsby said.

West Metro Fire Rescue conducted water-rescue training on July 2, 2021, ahead of an expected busy Fourth of July holiday weekend. (KDVR)

They want people to enjoy the water, but they’d really like people to make good choices, like wearing a life vest, even if you are a strong swimmer.

“Water is hard to classify, how dangerous it is, because sometimes it depends on the skill level of the swimmer,” Maulsby said. “But a lot of times, there are other factors that come in. If the water kicks up, if you get a cramp, if you hit a rock or if you get some sort of injury, it doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you are. It can be a long way from shore.”

Rescuers say a lot of accidents can be prevented with simple choices like having the right equipment and not getting in the water if you’re drinking or intoxicated.

“We always want to make sure we are as safe as possible. We have the philosophy, ‘We risk a lot to save a lot.’ So if someone is out there and their life is in danger, we are going to risk as much as we can, up to our lives. And of course we want to go home to our families as well. But we are willing to do that. That’s why we’re here,” Maulsby said.

“There’s a lot of things that can be prevented with simple choices: the life vests, the helmet, proper safety equipment and being smart when you are out there,” Maulsby said.

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